Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Vanishing Grace

Yancey, Philip. Vanishing Grace: What Ever Happened to the Good News? Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014.

In this book, Yancey takes a look at the way Christianity interacts with culture, specifically Evangelical Christianity. He makes a number of good points that will make Evangelicals consider the way they have been reacting to moral issues. He draws from the Bible and from church history to show how some of the greatest moments of the church were in times when Christians were not in political authority. The book will make a great discussion starter for small group discussions, Christian university courses dealing with society, and for Christian book clubs. While I may not agree with every point the author made, his work will make me consider why I think the way I do. I am not a fan of the hidden end note style which appears to be what this book will have, but since this was an advance e-galley provided by the publisher for review through NetGalley, that may have changed before it reached the final printing.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

The Boston Girl

Diamont, Anita. The Boston Girl: A Novel. New York: Scribner, 2014.

Addie Baum was born to immigrant Russian Jews. She grew up in Boston. The book is a chronicle of her growing up years, her early adulthood, and her courtship. It offers a glimpse of what life was like for Jews in Boston in the early 20th century. Addie is a likeable character, and readers can empathize with her and enjoy the way that she always seems to land her feet when adversity occurs. I enjoyed the book tremendously, but it did not hold me completely captive. The story is written from the perspective of Addie as grandmother relating the story to her granddaughter. I received an advance reader's copy through NetGalley for review purposes.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Slowing Time

Mahany, Barbara. Slowing Time: Seeing the Sacred Outside Your Kitchen Door. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2014.

This book was not what I expected it to be. It is arranged seasonally with not quite daily activities to enhance observations and slow the reader's pace of life down to enjoy a sense of wonder. It's really a book of creative writing pieces with no regard to proper rules of grammar. I found the arrangement to be a bit of distraction as there was one piece which tended to weave its way across the bottom of several pages, making it impossible to read a page at a time without going back to where that piece began to read it in its entirety for the sake of cohesiveness. It did not really work for me although other readers might enjoy this type of book.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

The Fourth Secret

Camilleri, Andrea. The Fourth Secret. s.l.: Mondadori, 2014.

Workers at construction sites are meeting their deaths on the job. After the latest incident, Montalbano can't resist taking a peak at the crime scene even though it is not his investigation. This is a very short installment in the long-running series. The brevity of the book leads to less fully developed characters and a less-complicated plot. Montalbano fans, however, will enjoy this visit with the Inspector. This review is based on an e-galley received by the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes.

Citizens Creek

Tademy, Lalita. Citizens Creek. New York: Atria Books, 2014.

This multigenerational tale relates the story of Cow Tom, a black man enslaved to a Creek Indian in Alabama who became a chief in the Creek Nation. The story follows Cow Tom and his desire to purchase his freedom through his marriage to Amy, his service in the Seminole Wars, the birth of his children, his removal to Indian Territory, his loyalty to the Tribe, and then follows his granddaughter Rose. It is based upon a true account. While the story bogged down and moved a bit slower than I would have liked in places, it was a fascinating account. It is a story that deserves to be kept alive, and Tademy has done an excellent service for us all in telling it. This review is based upon an advance e-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Last Song

Wiseman, Eva. The Last Song. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2014.

Set during the Spanish Inquisition, this story for teen readers relates the story of Isabel and her family who became "good Christians" to avoid Jewish persecution. Isabel herself never even realized that her family was Jewish until she hears other Christians calling her family names. To try to avoid what they see as impending persecution of Jews who became Christians and still practice their faith, they arrange a marriage between Isabel and a Christian boy. Isabel detests the boy and protests the marriage. It's even apparent the boy will be a spousal abuser. The book contains arrests, a burning scene, and some glimpses of hope. The families are not sure who their friends are and who their enemies are because it is obvious there is an informant in their midst. It's a piece of historical fiction for young adults covering an era that has a story that needs to be heard, but it's likely to be more popular with female readers than male ones. Most characters are developed adequately for their roles in the story. The narrative did not always flow as naturally as it could have nor did the tension mount as it could have. It's still a great read. This review is based on an e-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Love So Amazing

Rhodes, Pam. Love So Amazing. Oxford, UK: Lion Hudson, 2014.

Pam Rhodes has told the stories of 40 hymns, giving the background for the writing of the hymn and its application to us today. She has done a great job. There is a mix of older hymns and newer ones. There are a few that Americans may not recognize since she is from the United Kingdom; however, the majority of hymns are sung in churches on both sides of the Atlantic. This was just the book I needed at the right moment. While the book is not being sold in the United States, I will be purchasing multiple copies of it upon its release in the U.K. in late October.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

November Boughs

Whitman, Walt. November Boughs. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2014.

I tend to think of Walt Whitman as a poet, but this is a collection of essays written by the author better known for his poetry. Among my favorite essays in the collection is "The Bible As Poetry." His essay on "Slang in America" offered observations into how slang terms often become part of the core vocabulary of a language. Another couple which stood out to me because of my familiarity with works discussed were "What Lurks Behind Shakspere's Historical Plays?" and "A Thought on Shakspere." Whitman also offered his thoughts on Robert Burns and Tennyson. One of the most important aspects of this collection is that it offers reflections on 19th century life from interaction with Native Americans to theatre to the Civil War. He offers glimpses of various cities through diary entries, articles, and essays, such as New Orleans, New York, and St. Louis. Whitman must have been interested in the Quaker religion as he tells the stories of Elias Hicks and George Fox in biographical sketches.  An e-galley was received from the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Victorian Murderesses

Hartman, Mary S. Victorian Murderesses: A True History of Thirteen Respectable French and English Women Accused of Unspeakable Crimes. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2014.

This is a well-researched book detailing the murders committed by several English and French women during the Victorian era. The author takes a look at some aspects of the crimes in relation to the era in which they were committed. While the dastardly deeds may be milder than those we often hear about in 21st century news, the crimes were "unspeakable", as the subtitle suggests during the time in which they were committed. It bogs down a bit in places, but it is still a fascinating look at the subject. I would have preferred footnotes to end notes, particularly since the author often elaborates a bit more in those. This review refers to Dover's 2014 edition which I received from the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Nora Webster

Toibin, Colm. Nora Webster. New York: Scribner, 2014.

Normally I love Toibin's books, but I've found one to which I really never warmed. Nora Webster is a newly widowed mother who must come to terms with her new status and find her own place in the world. I never truly warmed to her character. The book focuses on her relationships with those in the community around her--her neighbors, her children, her co-workers, the schoolmaster, teachers, her voice teacher, and many others. While the writing is good and the author probably had an overarching theme with Nora's progress in the midst of her tragedy, most readers will not pick it up. I received an advance e-galley from the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation that a review would be written. Honestly, if I had not felt that obligation, I probably would have abandoned the book. It simply didn't work for me. I do think that many others will appreciate the book more than I did. The quality of the writing pushes it to a higher star level than I might otherwise give it.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Claude on the Slopes

Smith, Alex T. Claude on the Slopes. Atlanta, Ga.: Peachtree, 2014.

Claude (the dog) and Sir Bobblysock (his sidekick, a sock) learn about the dangers of "too loud voices" in relation to snow and avalanches in this tale. It's a cute story that children will enjoy. Claude is certainly leads an interesting and adventurous life. I really enjoyed the illustrations in this chapter book. The review is based on an advance e-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley for review. The book is scheduled for release 1 October 2014.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014


Deseran, Sara with Joe Hargrave, Antelmo Faria, and Mike Barrow. Tacolicious: Festive Recipes for Tacos, Snacks, Cocktails, and More. Photography by Alex Farnum. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 2014.

Featuring recipes from San Francisco's Tacolicious, this cookbook is full of great recipes with very nice illustrations featuring the taco and tortillas. The tacos include interesting ingredients such as ribs, goat, lamb, and much more in addition to the more traditional offerings. It also has a large section on cocktails, mainly featuring the margarita since it pairs well with tacos. There are a few non-alcoholic beverages in the section that the younger ones and those who don't drink alcohol can enjoy. It is really much more than a cookbook. The authors have done a great job telling the story of the taco and relating stories about ingredients. They've also given the outline of a party featuring the taco as well as some quick recipes to go along with it. There is a glossary of ingredients, a list of places where one can order ingredients online, a listing of restaurants in California and Mexico that the authors enjoy, and a good index. This cookbook is certain to be a hit with those who can't get enough of tacos. I received an advance e-galley of this title from the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Naval Documents of the American Revolution

Are you using United States government publications in your genealogical research? If not, you need to add them to your list of tools. Volume 12 of Naval Documents of the American Revolution just happened to cross my desk at work. The focus of this volume includes both the American and European Theaters for the months of April and May 1778.

Let's take a look at a few things that are included in this publication of interest to genealogists.

  • Roll of Officers and Seamen on Board Connecticut Privateer Ship General Putnam as recorded at New London, Connecticut, in May 1778. It includes about 183 men.
  • The journal entry of Capt. George Collier of the H.M. Frigate Rainbow from 1 May 1778 which tells about the weather conditions and the work of taking ships.
  • Several diary entries of Captian Frederick Mackenzie of the British Army.
  • Minutes of the Massachusetts Board of War.
  • Court martial of John Gilfroy, boatswain, of the Pennsylvania Navy on 19 May 1778.
  • Invoices for supplies and other items.
  • Letters
  • Station Bill for Officers of the French Navy Ship of the Line Languedoc from May 1778. This interesting bill includes duties of the officers and enlisted men. It actually tells where each many was stationed and how many pieces of ordnance each had at his station.

These are just a few of the items a quick look at a single volume in the series.

You will find this series cataloged in government documents sections at D 207.12: Some libraries may classify it in LC Classification or in Dewey instead of using the SUDOC classification.

You will find the first 11 volumes online at the American Naval Records Society's web site. The new 12th volume has not made its way there yet.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Scratching My Head

On Sunday afternoons between our morning and evening services at church, I frequently look through new Ancestry DNA matches for me and my dad up to about the 50% mark. I had an unusually large group of matches yesterday so I continued working on them after I returned home from the evening service until I had managed to get through them.

I always find a few things like a mother being born after her child was born, linkage to "parents" who are born in distant places with no connection to where the child was born and died, having children at under ten years of age, women giving birth at advanced ages, etc.

I love those tips about surnames that you and the match share. I clicked on one of those yesterday to discover that her ancestor sharing a same name as mine was allegedly married in Massachusetts in 1611 and allegedly had a child born in 1612 in Tewksbury, Essex, Massachusetts. I kept thinking that the date on Plymouth Rock is 1620. Since the person in question was born in England, I couldn't even assume the person was of native American origin. Of course, Tewksbury and Essex County didn't even exist as early as that tree alleged.

That, however, was not the biggest thing that made me scratch my head. The trees in question are actually not those of the person to whom I shared in this case but some I found as a result of that DNA match. I discovered that my DNA match and I shared the surname Stump. I knew that my Catherine Stump was born about 1711 in Pennsylvania, that she married Johannes Peter Keim in 1732, and that she died around 1768.  I had never tried to identify her parents. I didn't recognize this person's Stump line, but it did have ties to the Lancaster/Berks County areas so I just decided to see if anyone had identified the parents of my Catherine Stump. I found a couple of interesting things. Although she died in 1768, one person had her residing in Elk Lick, Somerset, Pennsylvania in 1840 with a link to the census for that year. She'd already been dead 71 or 72 years at that point. I didn't know that censuses enumerated ghosts. However, that one is not the one that took top honors in the unusual things category.

So what was the strangest thing I found? There were probably at least 20 trees that gave her death location as Chongqing, Chongqing Shiqu, Chongqing, China. As you might expect, there were no sources for the locations. One person had several citations for Stump, but the one thing that wasn't cited was the death. I'm trying to figure out why a woman from Pennsylvania would travel to China in the 18th century. (Her husband died in Pennsylvania in 1782.) It would have been a difficult voyage, and I just don't see it happening when she was married and had a family. Why have so many people apparently blindly accepted that she died there?  I thought that persons perhaps thought she might have been a missionary. The Wikipedia article shows that the mission movement to China began in the early part of the 19th century. However, it was mid-century before that took really began to explode. Lottie Moon, a name most Southern Baptists will recognize, didn't go to China until 1873. This does not seem like a likely reason for Catherine Stump to be there. I will not be adding this location to my own data. I may make a note that I've found undocumented trees that say she died there but that I have found nothing to support that conclusion. If anyone can provide documentation that she ever set foot in China, I'd love to see it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

An Event in Autumn

Mankell, Henning. An Event in Autumn. New York: Knopf Doubleday, 2014.

Kurt Wallander receives a call from Martinson on his day off. Wallander really does not want to be interrupted, but he takes the call. Martinson is offering Wallander the first opportunity to purchase a property from some of his wife's relatives and wants Wallander to go out and take a look. He almost buys it but discovers a hand sticking up in the ground. Further investigation locates an entire skeleton that has been there for awhile. A good bit of time is spent awaiting the forensic report, and when it finally arrives the investigation must seek to determine the deceased woman's identify. I'll leave the rest of the book for you to discover. I enjoyed this visit with Kurt Wallander. The plot is not as action-filled as some of the others, partially due to the dynamics of this particular investigation, but it does not bog down because of the short length of the installment. Mankell's writing even in this briefer volume is a cut above that of many mysteries. The author actually wrote this book awhile ago as a free novel for those who purchased a crime novel in Holland during a particular month, and it fits chronologically before the last installment of the series, The Troubled Man. It is a short, quick, and enjoyable read that certainly foreshadows Wallander's retirement. Fans of Wallander will want to read this one. Those who are reading the series in order may wish to read this one prior to The Troubled Man. I received an uncorrected proof e-galley from the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Torn Away

Brown, Jennifer. Torn Away. New York: Little, Brown, 2014.

Jersey's world is torn apart when a tornado rips through her Missouri town, taking away the only family she has ever known. The fatality toll is high for such a small town, and school ends early because the school is also destroyed. Jersey and her friends survive the first couple of days until her stepfather finds her and takes her to a hotel, but he's devastated by the loss of his wife and daughter and can't cope with it all. I don't want to say too much about the rest of the plot for fear of revealing spoilers. The first part of the story is probably essential but it is slow and hard to get into. After Jersey's life begins to drastically change, this novel turns into a real tear-jerker. It leaves the reader wanting to know more about what happened to Jersey during her senior year. The ending certainly makes it possible for the author to create a sequel that can tie up some of the things that may not have been fully resolved while exploring a slightly different theme. It's a book that many teens will enjoy reading and can certainly be used to explore themes relating to grief and disaster. I received an Advance Reading Copy of this title through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program with the expectation that a review would be written.

Sunday, July 27, 2014


Moalem, Sharon. Inheritance: How Our Genes Change Our Lives and Our Lives Change Our Genes. New York: Grand Central, 2014.

An interesting look at  medical genetics, written with the general public in mind. Many books on the subject are over the head of the average lay reader, but Moalem, a researcher and practicing doctor in the field of genetics, breaks it down so that most readers will understand. He doesn't cover a great deal of material, focusing on only one or two examples per chapter. He usually does not provide the SNP responsible for inherited conditions in his writing, although a person wanting to know more can likely find articles in library databases that will provide the information if they are willing to wade through scientific details. As a genealogist, I loved his recommendation at the end of chapter 6. He says, "One of the best gifts you can provide them [your siblings, children, and grandchildren] with is a thorough genealogical history, starting with what you know about the health of your own parents and moving on up and across the family tree as far as you can." (p. 122) He also cautions persons considering genetic testing to consider its implications for health and life insurance coverage. There is some great information in the book, but it does bog down a bit in places and probably focuses a bit too much on his own work in places although that it is what is most familiar to him.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Secrets of Hallstead House

Reade, Amy M. Secrets of Hallstead House. New York: Kensington, 2014.

Macy Stoddard of New York City, recovering from the loss of her parents in an accident, takes a nursing job on an island in the St. Lawrence River at Summerplace, also known as Hallstead House. Her job is to provide care and therapy for Alexandria Hallstead who is recovering from a fall. Macy is afraid of the water as she leaves the mainland for the island as she has never learned to swim. She likes Pete, the local man who often works for Alexandria and took her by the island though which puts her more at ease than she expected. She is met with hostility by the housekeeper and her husband the handyman as well as Alexandria's nephew. Macy soon learns that Alexandria's only daughter had met her death by drowning and that Alexandria's husband had suffered a fatal fall. When Macy learns the real reason that Alexandria has invited her to the island, Macy isn't sure that she wants to stay. This story has many of the elements of the classic romantic suspense novel. Readers who enjoyed the works of Phyllis Whitney and Victoria Holt will find much to enjoy in the novel. It suffers a bit in the believability department in a few places, but the pleasure of finding a book that took me back to my early love of this genre more than made up for it. I received an advance e-galley for review by the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation that a review would be written.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Psalms and Prayers for Little Ones

Nolan, Allia Zobel. Psalms and Prayers for Little Ones. Illustrated by Tammie Lyon. Eugene, Ore.: Harvest House, 2014.

This little volume takes several of the Psalms and paraphrases them so younger children can more easily understand them. It then pairs them with a short prayer based on each Psalm. The illustrations are good but not the quality that would be found in a Caldecott medal or honor book. The paraphrases sometimes stray a bit too far from some of the mainstream versions for my own tastes. If that does not bother you as much, this might be a book for your child or grandchild. There are certainly some Scripture truths to be learned here. This review is based on an advance review e-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley for review. I did find the "Review Copy" in black letters on each pair of pages to be of overkill. Perhaps the publisher needs to learn the art of watermarking the images so they are still readable but easily identified as review copies.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Summer Wind

Monroe, Mary Alice. The Summer Wind. New York: Gallery Books, 2014.

Mamaw has convinced Carson, Dora, and Harper to spend the summer at Sea Breeze one final time before it is put on the market. Carson is the victim of downsizing and is seeking a job. Dora is in the midst of a divorce and has a child with Asperger's syndrome (Nate). Harper is well off financially but isn't very happy in New York City. Also present is Mamaw's longtime employee Lucille who is like family. Most off Monroe's books that I have read have an environmental aspect to them. In this particular installment, readers are made aware of dolphin rehabilitation groups through an incident involving Carson and Nate and a dolphin that became ensnared in a fishing line. Each character is dealing with hurt and each must be healed from the scars of his/her/its own situation. It's a good summer read, and Monroe has woven together a plot where all the threads compliment each other and create a multidimensional portrayal of what healing is. Although I loved all the characters and they are all well drawn, my favorite has to be Lucille. My only disappointment is that we really do not get to see the complete resolution for every situation. We do see progress. I suspect that Monroe will revisit one or more of the characters in a future book. I received an advance review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation that a review would be written. There were a couple of misspellings in the ARC which I hope are corrected in the official version.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Long Way Home

Brierley, Saroo. A Long Way Home. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2014.

Saroo Brierley managed to get lost from his home in India by jumping aboard a train at the age of five. He traveled all the way to Calcutta with no identification, landing in an orphanage in that city. A couple from Australia adopted him. This is the story of his life and of his search for his family in India using the Internet, especially Google Earth and Facebook, to locate his home town. I don't want to provide spoilers so I'll simply say that the search illustrates how limited a five year old's vocabulary can sometimes be. Many memoirs can be rather boring and sometimes suffer from being poorly written but this one was a quick well-written read and managed to maintain my interest.  Persons interested in intercountry adoption or in locating birth parents will likely find it interesting. This review is based on an "Uncorrected Manuscript for Limited Distribution" received through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program with the expectation that a review would be written.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Late Starters Orchestra

Goldman, Ari L. The Late Starters Orchestra. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 2014.

Goldman, a professor of journalism at Columbia and former New York Times writer, recounts his studies of the cello at a later age in life and his involvement with the Late Starters Orchestra. He also discusses his son's studies in a Suzuki program for cello. The book is interesting in places, but bogs down in others. I loved the illustrations at the beginning of each chapter. This book could be quite inspirational for older persons who have been contemplating studying a musical instrument. However, I suspect that many persons would be frustrated by the lack of opportunities in their geographic area. This review is based on an advance e-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Friday, June 06, 2014

The Greek Yogurt Kitchen

Amidor, Toby. The Greek Yogurt Kitchen. New York: Grand Central, 2014.

Toby Amidor has provided a lot of options for those interested in substituting Greek yogurt for some of the less healthy ingredients found in many recipes. There are recipes for breakfast foods, for breads, for main courses, for vegetables, and for desserts included in the pages. The author provides many helpful tips along the way. He also quotes from nutrition literature about the value of Greek yogurt in the diet. Most people will find at least a few recipes that sound interesting enough to try. The author used plain yogurt in some recipes and flavored ones in others. He also includes a recipe to make one's own Greek yogurt at home and tells what equipment would be needed. He includes some recipes for creating flavors in the yogurt. The index was unavailable for review in the the galley. This review is based on an e-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation that a review would be written.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Biography for Beginners

Bentley, E. C. Biography for Beginners. Illustrated by G. K. Chesterton. Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications 2014. (Reprint of 3rd ed., 1925)

Although this short book has been around for a long time, it is now being republished by Dover Publications. It consists of "biographies" of persons written in four lines of rhyming verse. The biographies generally focus on only one thing about each person. The illustrations are drawings done by G. K. Chesterton. Some of the rhymes are better than others. Some of the persons included are not likely to be recognized by a 21st century audience. The premise of the book is entertaining, and I'm certain that the audience at the time it was written laughed out loud at many of the rhymes. This review is based on an advance review copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation that a review be written.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Beginning with the Word

Lundin, Roger. Beginning with the Word: Modern Literature and the Question of Belief. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2014.

Lundin takes a look at literature and compares it to theology. Several years ago while visiting a church with a family member, the Sunday School class was exploring poetry and other literature and comparing it to the Bible. I really enjoyed the approach that Sunday School teacher had taken and was really hoping that this treatment would be of a similar vein. Instead, this book focuses far more on a philosophical and theoretical approach to theology and literature and is full of jargon that bogs down the narrative. Instead of being something that is likely to get an undergraduate or lay person interested in the topic, it is probably something that only faculty in theology, philosophy, and literature would find interesting and perhaps some graduate students in those fields. The author appears to be enjoy Emily Dickinson's poetry quite a bit because the book includes quite a bit. There are sections where the advance review copy omits poems due to license restrictions. It is well-written, researched, and documenting. The indexing is fairly comprehensive. In addition to the end notes, there is also a works cited section. This review is based on an advance review copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation that a review would be written.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Sagebrush Singers

Kernecker, Herb. The Sagebrush Singers. Reno, Nev.: Humboldt American, 2014.

This is a retelling of the story of the Bremen Town Musicians with a southwestern American setting. A burro, a coyote, a skunk, and a crow head toward town to sing when they come across a band of rustlers. While I prefer the original story, this one should be entertaining for children. The illustrations are done by noted illustrator James Watts although they are not his best work. Although the book was released on May 15, the website advertised in the book has not been updated with the music and other features that were promised. Although the target audience is age 5 and up, I think  younger children would enjoy it. My review is based on an advance e-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation a review would be written.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Goodnight, June

Jio, Sarah. Goodnight, June. New York: Plume, 2014.

What a fun read! June Anderson is a New York banker specializing in foreclosures. Her work has created life-threatening stress for her which she refuses to acknowledge. Suddenly she inherits her aunt's bookstore for children back in Seattle. June plans to take a week off and close it down just as she has closed down so many businesses over the years, but the bookstore still holds power over here. She meets a restauranteur in the adjacent space. The two of them hit it off well. There's a lot of resolution of family matters. The big thread in the novel is the friendship between her aunt and Margaret Wise Brown, author of Goodnight Moon and other children's stories. The letters June finds among her aunt's books point to her aunt's influence in the creation of the much beloved children's book. Ironically, June discovers that the bookstore is in financial trouble and finds herself on the opposite end of her banking role. Can she save the bookstore? I loved this book. You can tell that the author loves children's literature and literature itself. It may not be the most plausible story. There are more famous names dropped than could possibly actually occur, but even in spite of that, I loved the book. It's a fun and creative fictional look at what might have been the inspiration of a classic. This review is based on an e-galley received from the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes.

The Tastemakers

Sax, David. The Tastemakers: Why We're Crazy for Cupcakes But Fed Up with Fondue. New York: Public Affairs Books, 2014.

Have you ever wondered how food trends begin and end? Author David Sax takes a look at how some food trends began, why some of them decreased in popularity, and how some will likely continue. He also takes a look at political and economic factors in the food industry. He includes a bibliography for each chapter at the end rather than utilizing footnotes in his narrative. From cupcakes to Indian cuisine, from food trucks to fondue, he takes a look at the culture of food in American society. I found the book interesting in places but bogging down in others. The review is based on an advance e-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

SNGF: Mother's Birthday

For this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, Randy Seaver has challenged us with a set of questions regarding our mom's birthday.

1)  What day of the week was your Mother born? Tell us how you found out.

Mom was born Saturday, 30 August 1924. [1]

2) What has happened in recorded history on your Mother's birth date (day and month)? Tell us how you found out, and list five events.

August 30, 1682 - William Penn set sail from England to the New World. [2] 
August 30, 1850 - Honolulu becomes a city. [3]
August 30, 1862 - Confederates defeated the Union at the Second Battle of Bull Run. [4] 
August 30, 1945 - General MacArthur lands in Japan. [5]
August 30, 1967 - Thurgood Marshall is confirmed as the first African-American justice of the United States Supreme Court. [6]

3)  What famous people have been born on your Mother's birth date?  Tell us how you found out, and list five of them.

August 30, 1797 - Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein [7]
August 30, 1818 - Emily Bronte [8] 
August 30, 1870 - Maria Montessori [9]
August 30, 1893 - Huey Long, governor or Louisiana [10] 
August 30, 1930 - Warren Buffett, businessman [11] 

4)  Put your responses in your own blog post, in a comment on this blog post, or in a status or comment on Facebook or Google+.

It's obvious that I'm putting them on my blog!

[1] InfoPlease Perpetual Calendar, online resource, InfoPlease ( : 17 May 2014).
[2] "Historical Events on 30th August," ( : 17 May 2014). 
[3] Ibid.
[4] "August 30," On this Day ( : 17 May 2014).
[5] "Historical Events on 30th August," ( : 17 May 2014).
[6] "August 30," Wikipedia ( : 17 May 2014), s.v. "Events." 
[7] Ibid., s.v. "Births." 
[9] "August 30," On this Day ( : 17 May 2014), s.v. "Births."
[10] Ibid.
[11]  "August 30," Wikipedia ( : 17 May 2014), s.v. "Events."

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor

Gaynor, Hazel. The Girl Who Came Home: A Novel of the Titanic. New York: William Morrow, 2014.

Maggie Murphy was one of fourteen from the village of Ballysheen, Ireland aboard the Titanic. She was heading to America to live with an aunt after her mother's death, leaving behind the love of her life, Seamus Doyle in the village as he cared for his sick father. The story alternates between 1912 and 1982 when Maggie finally tells her story to her great-granddaughter, a journalist. One of the heroes of the book is a steward by the name of Harry Walsh who ensures that Maggie gets safely on board a lifeboat. The published story, of course, receives much attention by the press and brings with it some touching moments. I loved the historic story of the TItanic, but the parallel story of the present between Maggie's great-granddaughter Grace and Jimmy didn't have the punch that was probably intended. Fortunately, that is a minor part of the overall book, so the book was quite enjoyable. The book was received through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program with the expectation that a review would be written.

Monday, May 12, 2014

NGS Recap

Randy Seaver was lamenting (on Facebook) the lack of posts last week during the NGS conference. I really didn't have a chance to post much. I was using my iPad to access the Internet although I had the laptop with me also. The only time I pulled it out was when I was giving my presentation on Wednesday. That went well, by the way.

Favorite sessions that I attended:
  • "Hell on the Home Front: War-Time Damages and the Claims They Generated" by Elizabeth Shown Mills
  • "North Carolina Research" by Jeff Haines
  • "Shootout at the Rhododendron Lodge: Reconstructing Life-Changing Events" by Judy Russell
  • "DNA and the Golden Rule: The Law and Ethics of Genetic Genealogy" by Judy Russell
  • "Working with Documents: The Importance of Context in Record Analysis" by Barbara Vines Little
  • "South Carolina Research" by Jeff Haines
Socially this conference was a bit different than most. Usually genealogists tend to congregate in the lobby near the bar area in the evenings. Not this time! I think we were spread out over too many hotels for this to work. As a result, it was hard to make connections with people, and you saw a lot less of people than you often did. One person joked that we were just all getting too old.

Food: We tried several local restaurants. The worst food and service award goes to the Hilton Garden Inn's restaurant. On that evening, we had a group of seven. We were the only people in the restaurant, and they couldn't seem to get the orders right and the food was horrible. I ordered crab cakes. They were quite dry. They didn't give you remoulade sauce or anything to cut that dryness. The worst part was that part of the crab shell was in my crab cake. I probably left more than I ate. It was pretty much inedible. Another person had a burger which he had ordered medium rare. It was way past well done. It had taken so long to get the food we got that he didn't dare send it back. The waitress had forgotten to take my "side" order which was supposed to accompany my meal so I had to wait on that after I got the crab cakes. On the good side, my side order of fries was actually hot as opposed the ones the others had gotten. The Best Food award goes to a place we found through Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. It was called "Dot's Back Inn." Burgers are their specialty. I had the one with the jerk seasonings, provolone cheese, and grilled onions. I think it was called the "Rasta." Jeff had the Greek one that had feta and tzatziki sauce. We both thought ours were great. We knew that they had a lot of burgers. We wished we'd tried it earlier because when we got there, we discovered that they had a menu of things on a hand-written board that were daily features. For example, there was a Moroccan-spiced swordfish with cilantro sauce. The fish of the day was shark that day. They had a shrimp and andouille sausage dish served on a bed of cheese grits that sounded quite yummy. They had blackened mahi and much more. They were also quite reasonably priced with most dishes being under $15. If we had not eaten at Mama J's (a soul food place near the convention center that was also quite good) at lunch, we might have tried one of the bigger meals instead of the burger that night. One of the highlights was a donut run we made with friends one evening. They were in search of a maple bacon donut at The Sugar Shack. They were out of that flavor, but we tried the Baby Ruth donut which was absolutely wonderful.

Exhibits: I didn't spend a lot of time in the exhibit hall except for my shift at the APG booth. It was small and crowded. I did manage to walk by most booths, but I just didn't spend money this time. My bank account thanks me although that is a bit odd for me not to purchase a little more than I did.

Hotel: The staff at the Marriott where I stayed was great. The valets who parked our cars were very service-oriented, making it a good experience every time I needed to get my car out.

All in all, it was a great conference!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

They've Ruined My Easter Candy

When I was growing up, I always loved the variety of Easter candy that would appear in my basket. It usually consisted of jelly beans, chocolate eggs, the hard oval shaped eggs that were a bit hollow but had a marshmallow layer near the top, a few Cadbury eggs, a large chocolate Easter bunny, and malted milk eggs (aka Robin eggs). I must confess that the jelly beans were probably my least favorite because they were usually the cheap ones instead of a good variety such as Jelly Belly. I loved just about anything chocolate, although the bunnies did not usually have a good flavor. I always, however, enjoyed the malted milk eggs. I went to the store a day or two before Easter and purchased a bag of malted milk eggs. I didn't read the packaging very carefully, but when I tasted them, I realized there was some sort of flavor on the shell part. I really wanted plain malted milk eggs. I glanced at the package and still only saw the words "malted milk eggs." This week I was in another store and saw the Easter candy on clearance. I went over to the shopping cart that had malted milk eggs in it. To my disgust, the only variety they had were coconut flavored malted milk eggs. No regular ones at all! I came back home and took out my bag. There in tiny print were the words "ice cream flavor" down at the bottom of the bag. That explains the disgusting taste. I wish I'd just purchased a package of Reese's Cup eggs.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Georgia Courthouse Disasters

Graham, Paul K. Georgia Courthouse Disasters. Decatur, GA: The Genealogy Company, 2013.

Graham has researched and documented the disasters that affected various Georgia courthouses. He tells the stories of fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and other things which affected disasters and tells whether or not there was record loss, and if so, what was lost or remained. It's a very handy reference book for anyone doing genealogical work in the state by a well-respected Georgia genealogist.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Murder Comes Ashore

Lindsey, Julie Anne. Murder Comes Ashore. New York: Carina Press, 2014.

Patience finds some body parts that wash up on Chincoteague Island. The local law enforcement and FBI are on the case. Her parents land in jail. She is determined to clear their name. It's a dreadful read with a promising setting. I never connected with the main character or really with any of the others. The writing did not flow. If you are interested in the Chincoteague setting, you are better off remembering it with the classic children's book Misty of Chincoteague. If you are interested for the mystery aspect, there are many more mysteries out there which are far more engaging. This is based on an advance reader copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Under Magnolia

Mayes, Frances. Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir. New York: Crown, 2014.

Mayes recalls her childhood and youth in Georgia, her college days in Virginia and Florida, and a few moments from her recent return to the South. She has a way of describing place that is a true gift. We even see some glimpses of some of her poetry. While I prefer her works on Italy, this one does give you insights into what shaped her as a person and writer. She also draws comparisons between Italy and the Southern United States. The writing is elegant as one has come to expect in her works. This review is based on an e-galley received by the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation a review would be written.

The Homesick Texan's Family Table

Fain, Lisa. The Homesick Texan's Family Table: Lone Star Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours.  Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 2014.

Lisa Fain grew up in Texas but currently resides in New York. In this volume, she takes Texas cuisine, much of it from her own family, and gives it a bit of a New York twist by adding or substituting other ingredients and by using Kosher salt instead of the salt that would be most commonly used in the Southern States. She has quite a few Tex-Mex inspired dishes as well as some with hints of barbecuing. Many of the traditional Southern desserts are also included. Each sections is prefaced by a family story. The dishes themselves either give a family story, information about an ingredient and its use in Texas, or another interesting tidbit for the reader. Recipes vary in the degree of difficulty and amount of time it would take to prepare.  Persons looking for a book that will provide pure Texas recipes will want to find a different cookbook. Those who like twists on family favorites will enjoy this one. This review is based on an e-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation of a review.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Murder Simply Brewed

Chapman, Vannetta. Murder Simply Brewed. (Amish Village Mystery ; 1). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2014.

Amber Wright is the manager of an Amish Artisan Village in Indiana. When Ethan, the coffee shop manager, dies, it appears to be a simple health issue, but not everyone believes that. Amber makes Hannah Troyer her coffee shop manager. Hannah is observant and notes some things that seem a bit off and make her suspicious as well. With no cooperation from the local officers, Amber and Hannah must investigate on their own. This is a case of a book trying to be too many things. The author needs to decide whether she wants to write romance or a mystery. If she wants to write romance, she probably needs a bit more development of that in the plot. If she wants to write mystery, she needs much further development there. The whole thing seemed rather implausible. It simply was not well-developed. The presence of a boa constrictor in the plot nearly made me abandon the book entirely. If you don't mind suspending believability for awhile and really like Amish fiction, try this one. If you are a mystery lover, avoid this one. This review is based on an advance e-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Blackberry Pie Murder

Fluke, Joanne. Blackberry Pie Murder. New York: Kensington, 2014.

Hannah ends up in jail when she hits a man with her vehicle on a rainy day. No one seems to know who the man is. Mike is suspended by  Bill for refusing to arrest Hannah. Because she was arrested at the beginning of a weekend, she has to stay in jail until Monday when the first hearing will be held. Hannah begins the investigation into the man's identity from her jail cell while she's awaiting the hearing. In the meantime, Hannah's mom Delores is constantly changing her mind regarding things related to her upcoming wedding to Doc. While it's an enjoyable installment in the series, there's a little too much stuff not resolved at the end for me. Persons who have not read earlier installments in the series will likely want to read a few before beginning this one just to be able to sort characters. As usual, there are quite a few recipes, particularly for cookies and desserts that will appeal to readers, if they can get through the commentary. I often wish that the recipes were provided without the commentary at some spot in the book so readers who don't keep the books permanently don't have so many pages to copy if they want a recipe. An advance e-galley of the book was received by the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation that a review would be written.

Dear Abigail by Diane Jacobs

Jacobs, Diane. Dear Abigail: The Intimate Lives and Revolutionary Ideas of Abigail Adams and Her Two Remarkable Sisters. New York: Random House, 2014.

Author Diane Jacobs has done a tremendous amount of research into the life of Abigail Adams, wife of the second United States president. It also concerns her sisters. Much of the content in the book is derived from extensive research into her letters. It is supplemented by additional research into the social history and political history of the colonial and early national periods. While the book is well researched, it is not a particularly stimulating read. It has a rather dry academic tone although there are parts that are interesting and insightful. The book does a good job of showing that Abigail Adams was very involved in the political world, had her own opinions, was critical of slavery, and believed women could be involved politically. This book will be of most interest to academics, but others with an interest in Abigail, her family, or women in that period of history will probably also want to read it. An electronic galley of this book was received by the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation that a review would be written.

Friday, February 21, 2014

And Then There Were Nuns by Jane Christmas

Christmas, Jane. And Then There Were Nuns: Adventures in a Cloistered Life. London: Lion Books, 2014.

Twice-divorced and newly engaged Jane Christmas is trying to determine whether or not she has been called to be a nun. She is in her late fifties. She visits several convents and monasteries as she tries to determine whether she has received a vocational call to dedicate her life in such a manner. The main purpose of the book seems to be to make the reader aware that monks and nuns do not receive funding from the church and need financial assistance. Their vows sometimes make it awkward for them to request that funding. Before reading this book, I was unaware that there were Anglican nuns as well as Catholic ones. The author visited communities from both faiths during her spiritual quest, as she had been reared by parents of both faiths. The author is also dealing with the emotional fallout from a rape that had occurred more than thirty years earlier in her own life. I received an e-galley of this book from the publishers through NetGalley with the expectation that a review would be written.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

SNGF - 6 Questions

a)  What was your first illness as a child? I honestly have no idea, probably something like strep.

b)  What was the first funeral you attended? I've been going to funerals most of my life. My best guess would be it was probably to Dad's Aunt Myrtie's husband's funeral. His name was Otha Reece. I would have been about three. The first grandparent who died was my mom's father. I was eight when he died.

c)  What was your favorite book as a child? As a very young child, I had some of those cheap books that you got at the 5 and 10 stores. I absolutely loved There's a Mouse in the House. It was a rather small book, but I am sure I read it almost daily as a young child. After I was a little older, I adored the Little House books. I think Little Town on the Prairie was my favorite in the series.

d)  What was your favorite class in elementary school? No question about this one. Social Studies! I loved studying about the world. I loved maps. I loved geography.

e)  What was your favorite toy as a child? Definitely a doll. The question is which one? I loved them all.  There was "Janice" which was a baby doll that had a hard head, hands, etc. and a soft body. There were two bride dolls. One was a hand-me-down from one sister-in-law; the other was what I got for being in my other brother's wedding. There were Barbie dolls. One was the old kind that had the hair painted on the form and used wigs. Another was a Malibu Barbie--all the rage at the time. There was also Baby Tender Love. There were lots more, including Cindy, that I carried around by her hair. One time the beautician offered to color her hair. She really "frosted" it with that gray color that was popular back in the 1960s. I never played as much with the doll after that because she'd ruined the hair in my opinion.

f)  Did you learn how to swim, and where did you learn? I took lessons at the Amory Municipal Pool. It's really sad that they tore down the pool and the shower facilities and even leveled the ground.

Monday, February 10, 2014

March 1939: Before the Madness

Frei, Terry. March 1939: Before the Madness - The Story of the First NCAA Basketball Tournament Champions. Lanham, Md.: Taylor Trade, 2014.

This is the story of the road to the first NCAA tournament. The author who has a connection with the Oregon Ducks (who were called the Webfoots back then) did tend to focus on their story more than on the story of the other teams that advanced in this first tournament, but it was still a very interesting story. In addition to including what was going on in the basketball world, the author also included paragraphs giving an overview of what was happening in the World in regards to World War II. The author had also followed through with additional information about the post-tournament life of each Oregon player and how World War II and/or the Korean Conflict affected them. It's very readable. I can envision this book being a hit with many college students who are somewhat reluctant recreational readers. This review is based on an advance e-galley of the book provided by the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation that a review would be written.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Land of the Five Flavors

Hollmann, Thomas O. The Land of the Five Flavors: A Cultural History of Chinese Cuisine. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013.

This book takes a look at the history of Chinese cuisine. The title led me to believe that I would be looking at a more regional approach to this history, but it was a more blended approach, showing how regions influenced other regions and later how even the world influenced the cuisine. The book even showed how agricultural influences from other countries were implemented. It took a look at how economic and political factors were also influential. It also takes a look at modern dining habits, including fast foods from Western culture. It includes quotations from Chinese literature. Citations are mainly in text ones. It's very academic in tone with a good bibliography and index provided. Recommended for those with an interest in ethnic cuisines or Chinese culture. Review is based on an advance e-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Tennessee Bibliography for 2012

Each year, the Tennessee Library Association produces a bibliography of publications from the prior year which is published in their publication Tennessee Libraries. Fortunately this publication is accessible free of charge. The 2012 Bibliography appeared in volume 63, no. 4 (2013). It contains several publications of interest to genealogists. Please take a moment to look through the bibliography and find items that might help you in your research.

Here is a link to 2012 and to prior years:







2007 Juvenile

2006 (PDF)

2005 (PDF)

2004 (PDF)

2003 (PDF)

2002 (PDF)

2001 (PDF)

2000 (PDF)

1999 (PDF)

1998 (PDF)

1996 (PDF)

1995 (PDF)

1995 (i.e. 1994) (PDF)

1994 (i.e. 1993) (PDF)

1993 (i.e. 1992) (PDF)

There are a couple of earlier ones at the site, but I could not get them to display properly so I will let you look for those yourself if you really want them.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Shadows of Death

Dams, Jeanne M. Shadows of Death. New York: Severn House, 2014.

Dorothy & Alan are once again vacationing. This time it is on the Orkney Islands. The benefactor of an archaeological dig on a remote island is found dead at the site. Alan is asked to assist  in the investigation as the local constabulary are tied up with a terrorist threat. It's a small pool of suspects. Alan and Dorothy realize that someone is planting red herrings to try to deter them from the investigation. One key person goes missing. No one knows for sure if he's dead or alive. They also get assistance from the vicar's wife. While the mystery is pretty good, it didn't quite work for me on the plausibility level. I would love for the author to let Dorothy and Alan stay at home in Sherebury for the next installment in this series. It's beginning to seem like they never stay at home, and I do miss the locals there. This review is based on an electronic copy received through the publisher from NetGalley with the expectation of a review.